[This is a scene from my current rough draft for Chronicles of Hodra. This is one of several scenes to occur in the Aurora Wood from last time. In it, the Hodran are just about to attack the Horos main base. The Horos have been driven back quite a bit at this point, and are starting to lose faith in their commander, and rightly so. He’s an idiot.
I’m not sure if this scene will stay in the book, or if it will play out exactly in this manner.]
Where had it all gone so wrong?
Sagia remembered when they had first come here. The excitement, the confidence, the assurance of victory had long ago passed, to be replaced by fear, uncertainty and paranoia. The Copai she had under her command were restless, and she understood perfectly well why. An animal will jump at every shadow, and a Nightworld had many shadows to jump at, even for Horos.
“What if we collapse that tree?” Copai 7 suggested. “It could block the path off, or maybe we could try and collapse it on the Hodran?”
Sagia looked to ‘that tree’ and bristled with irritation. There wasn’t enough room to place one of their Zodia mechs in the area they were guarding, so two watch towers and a small patrol had been set up. Normally they just would have leveled the crystals, but supposedly the Hodran considered it a sacred grove or something and wouldn’t attack it. She understood, but having a logical reason why you’re open to attack isn’t even remotely comforting.
At least she had twelve Copai with her. Perhaps they could be her meat shield.
“Wouldn’t work.” Copai 4 replied, pointing to the trunk. “We’d only be able to collapse it from the trunk. They’re small, quick, and live in these trees. Block the path, they’ll just climb over it or go around, and the metal men will be slowed down. Try to collapse it on them, and they’ll be inside before it lands.”
The Horos were on the run now, and everyone seemed to know it. The Hodran were animals like the Copai, and yet the Horos had been driven back. Foul sorcerey could explain quite a bit of their setbacks, but not all. It was fairly evident to her and the rest of the Horos on-base that Capric was simply incompetent.
“Well what about-”
“Would you animals cease your innane prattle?!” Sagia snarled. “You exist to serve, not to think.”
The Copai bowed their heads. “Yes, mistress.”
Sagia was quiet, trembling as she looked away. “Set up the tree to collapse anyway. Maybe we’ll get lucky.”
The planet wasn’t cold enough to make her tremble.
Sagia was beginning to doubt the mission. She would never question the Lady, of course, but she questioned how her commanders had chosen to follow Her instructions. Capric seemed the bumbling fool. Their forces were constantly thwarted and outmaneuvered, like children trying to build a particle accelerator (granted, not much room to talk, she didn’t manage it until 7) and there was absolutely no reason for it. Capric had grown eccentric, too, talking to himself in empty rooms, yelling at his aides for no apparent reason, and generally growing more unstable by the minute.
…Who was in command after Capric, again? Was it Taura? Her hand unconsciously dropped to her crossbow. Perhaps she would do a better job than this miserable-
There was a slight hum, two loud cracks, and darkness swallowed her.
She pulled out her weapon, snarling at the sudden change. The Copai were scrambling as well. She could hear them grabbing their daggers and clubs. She could hear thumps as her charges hit the ground. She fired at the minute sounds of paws on grass, but was disappointed to hear Copai 2 yell out in pain.
She had just enough time to wonder how they had turned the trees off before consciousness left her.